Brentmark Software’s Estate Planning Tools, including The Kugler Estate Analyzer (Kugler), is similar to their many other software offerings. It offers
a WYSIWYG, straightforward approach with easy-to-follow data-entry concepts. Offering a no frills user interface, the program runs on Windows 95 or newer operating systems and requires 5MB of hard disk space.
Comprehensiveness, Reliability & Ease of Use – 4 Stars
Brentmark utilizes a “Building Blocks” model for creating scenarios, from the very simple to very complex. The system functioned very reliably and provided accurate answers to the numeric computations I fed it. Estate Planning Tools now includes 100 planning models.
Calculations – 4 Stars
I was able to create estate plans with various, different interrelated scenarios. The program handles all the important estate planning techniques, enabling the user to quickly created plans under various scenarios. My sample client information was answered with correct program calculations. As well, it offers the ability to modify program calculations as to future changes in estate tax law.
Customization, Flexibility & Features – 4.5 Stars
Kugler’s “Building Blocks” approach proved itself to be adequate in providing flexible, custom plans. However, I was unable to create a very simple plan of splitting an estate between a child and grandchildren after payment of estate taxes. The program allows for modifications to future changes in the law. Among the various techniques/scenarios included
are Credit Shelter Trust, Life Insurance Trust, Marital
QTIP Trust, GST Trust,
QPRT, GRAT, Rolling GRAT, CRAT, CLAT, CRUT, Sale to Grantor Trust, Family Limited Partnerships, Special Use
Valuation, Outright Gifting and Annual Exclusion Gifts.
Client Presentation Skills – 4 Stars
Kugler Estate Analyzer provides one report, but
multiple reports with differ-ing scenarios can be created and saved for each client. As well, output can be saved
in *.PDF or *.RTF formats.
I would have expected more in the way of connectivity, etc. The program creates
traditional flowcharts, which can be easily understood.
In addition, the planning models included with Estate Planning Tools offer reports, graphs and detailed explanations for client presentations.
Company History, Support & Help – 4 Stars
Brentmark has been in
the estate, financial and
retirement planning software
business for 20 years. In
addition to the two products reviewed here, the company offers a number of other related products. Brentmark provides online context-
sensitive help and live technical support. Users can update the programs via
program patch files available for download from the Brentmark web site. As well, an extensive glossary provides explanations for technical terms.
Relative Value – 4 Stars
Estate Planning Tools is available in a single-user license for $395; a 10-user license costs $790. The Kugler Estate Analyzer is a very
good value at $595 for a single-user license; a 10-user license costs $1,190. All licenses include six months of maintenance.
2005 Overall Rating – 4 Stars